Lombardi, Appian Take BPM On Demand - InformationWeek

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2/12/2007
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Doug Henschen
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Lombardi, Appian Take BPM On Demand

Business process management suite vendors are embracing the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model with not one but two announcements today around on-demand BPM. Lombardi, for one, introduced Blueprint, a SaaS tool intended to bring process modeling to the masses. Then Appian announced an ambitious plan to deliver its entire BPM suite on demand.

Business process management suite vendors are embracing the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model with not one but two announcements today around on-demand BPM. Lombardi, for one, introduced Blueprint, a SaaS tool intended to bring process modeling to the masses. I knew about that one weeks in advance thanks in part to Derek Miers' in-depth Put-to-the-Test review of Lombardi Teamworks, posted this morning. Then Appian announced an ambitious (though not-yet-ready-for-prime-time) plan to deliver its entire BPM suite on demand.Lombardi's Blueprint service, which is now live, is intended to make it easy for ordinary business folks to document their processes. Users enter process steps and sub-steps in list-like fashion, and they can add details and collaborate on problems and bottlenecks in the as-is process. Sure, you could gather task lists and comments through e-mail, but Blueprint automatically turns this "mapping" view into a BPMN-style modeling view that power users, analysts and IT folks can embellish and turn into executable processes. If you want to try Blueprint for free, two users can collaborate on a single process at no charge. If you're sold, you can subscribe to enable 10 users to collaborate on an unlimited number of processes for $500 per month (and another $500 for each additional 10 users).

Some vendors are giving away their modeling tools online to foster broader BPM adoption, but if you've followed some of Bruce Silver's blogs on BPMN modeling, you'll quickly realize it's not for everyone. I think Lombardi's idea makes sense, but it doesn't exactly transform the company into SaaS player.

Appian's Appian Anywhere is billed as a complete BPM suite delivered by subscription, including everything from process design to execution and optimization. Processes will be supported with the vendor's portal, collaboration, content management and rules management capabilities, and Appian says ready-to-run processes will be available from a growing partner and customer community.

So just how will a SaaS-style BPMS integrate various behind-the-firewall technologies tied to an end-to-end process? "We'll deal with integration from the start using three methods," says George Barlow, VP and general manager of Appian Anywhere. "The first is to use SOA and Web services using the 'Smart Nodes' technology in our design and modeling environment. That will enable Web service integration capabilities through standards such as UDDI. The second way will be more classic connection approaches such as JDBC and ODBC access to databases. The third way will be to host databases locally at our hosted facility, and we'll let customers synchronize with behind-the-firewall databases."

Appian's announcement is, indeed, more ambitious, but it's still just that -- an announcement. General release isn't expected until the third quarter (with beta in Q2), but that hasn't stopped Appian from mapping out pricing ranging from $15 per user, per month for basic design and modeling seats to $25 to $35 per user per month for secured production seats. Barlow says Appian plans to use Amazon.com's Elastic Compute Cloud EC2 (virtual server) and S3 (virtual storage) services.Business process management suite vendors are embracing the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model with not one but two announcements today around on-demand BPM. Lombardi, for one, introduced Blueprint, a SaaS tool intended to bring process modeling to the masses. Then Appian announced an ambitious plan to deliver its entire BPM suite on demand.

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